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“Went once only”

Restaurarte Vida Ventura
Ranked #2 of 18 Restaurants in Adjuntas
Price range: $65 - $100
Cuisines: International
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Dining options: Late Night, Breakfast, Reservations
Description: Located in a 1887 coffee Hacienda. We offer a gastronomic experience enhanced by a botanical agro-tour, followed by the tasting dinner (8 courses)meal filled with only fresh and local ingredients. Chef Ventura Vivoni presents a new menu every weekend based on a seasonal inspiration. Finished with a cup of their local fresh coffee and a historical tour inside the old house. Available by reservation only.
Reviewed May 24, 2014

... But it was great. Family operated and the chef was not only outstanding but courteous and personally visited us. Great natural atmosphere. I recommend it highly !

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3  Thank Cary_collado
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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18 - 22 of 99 reviews

Reviewed March 31, 2014 via mobile

Welcoming, friendly, historic place in the mountains near Adjuntas. Come relaxed and open minded for a one of a kind experience. First and foremost the culinary artisanship of Ventura accompanied by the aromas the fresh air and balance of service and camaraderie. The Hacienda is located near a stream and is planted with citrus fruits, plantain, coffee. Be punctual and start at 1 pm and lasts 5 hours. This is a must.

2  Thank travelgreattimes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 17, 2014

One of the best restaurants in all of Puerto Rico is not in the San Juan Metro area, but in the mountains west of the town of Adjuntas, in the coffee-growing central highlands of the island. Plan on a 2-hour drive (choose your route, either take the highway to Arecibo and head south through Lares (less distance, more twisties), or the highway to Ponce and head north on PR-10 to Adjuntas (more highway), and plan on spending at least 5-6 hours having a leisurely, eight-course prix-fixe menu luncheon at a perfectly restored 1800s farmhouse, tended to by a very attentive wait staff, and by chef Ventura Vivoni personally. Be sure to call and reserve as they have limited seating and a set menu.
The chef uses locally-grown ingredients, and based on their availability, varies the menu, which is an eclectic mix of local cuisine with an international twist, punctuated by experiments with molecular cuisine (cooking with liquid nitrogen, etc.). For a prix fixe menu, the helpings are large, but each course builds and matches well enough, and the timing is such, that just when you thought you couldn't possibly eat more, the next couse proves more delicious than the previous one. The experience is designed to feel as though you are visiting a close friend's country home, and the chef interacts with his audience in a theatrical, entertaining way.
Should guests like, they can also participate in a tour of the facilities and farmhouse guided by the chef's father (look up Hacienda Luz de Luna). I would NOT recommend participating in this tour, if only because it is quite lengthy both before and after lunch, so if you want to go with friends and enjoy the food and each other, the college-level lecture on 1800s Puerto Rican rural life, that segues into Puerto Rican politics and sundry other topics will take up too much time. My suggestion to the chef is to make the tour a 15-20 minute option only.
This place is a MUST for anyone living in Puerto Rico, or visiting Puerto Rico, and could even be a reason to visit Puerto Rico in and of itself! I would also suggest staying for the evening somewhere nearby (Hacienda Luis on lake Guayo in nearby Castañer could be an option), to cap off the perfect luncheon.
Expect to invest about $100 per person total on this unique dining experience. I cannot recommend this enough.

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2  Thank DAAFY
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 6, 2014

Hidden Gastro gem

One of the bigest mistakes tourists make in Puerto Rico is limiting themselves to Old San Juan, the Condado, and all-inclusive resorts on the north shore. They miss out on the best of PR: the mountains.

Nestled near the central mountain town of Adjuntas, about 1:45 hrs from San Juan (through Ponce. Take hwy 52 to hwy 10 to rd. 135) is the nineteenth century coffee plantation, Hacienda Luz de Luna. A working farm, it is also home to restaurant Vida Ventura, the venture of the family's younguest son, an entirely self-taught young chef, Ventura Vivoni.

There is no better food in all of Puerto Rico.

Sure, you can spend your bucks at Marmalade, etc., but you will not find the sheer creative genious and love of cooking that hits you at Ventura's table. Influenced by both Puerto Rican culinary traditions (which developed for the most part in the nineteenth century) and modernist or moluecular cuisine, Ventura dazzles course after course.

There is a set menu, which changes daily depending on locally available resources. It consists of three appetizers, a soup, first course, sherbet, main course, pre-dessert, dessert, and coffee.
The price is $75, not including drinks and tip.

Upon arrival, as we gathered to wait for the whole group (courses are brought to everyone at the same time, so everyone has to start together), we enjoyed ñame chips with a dip made of mashed gandules (pigeon peas) and a sauce of tomato, cilantro and garlic. The combination immediately summed up the core flavors of Puerto Rican cooking: tomato, garlic, cilantro, and textures both crunchy and smooth. this came with a complimentary glass of citrus sangria, made with white wine, the juice of several different kinds of oranges, and a dash of rum.

Then we were taken on a tour of the complex, about which see below. When we came back, we had two more apetecer: pastelillos de morcilla (blood sausage turnovers) with a sauce made of pureed red peppers, followed by small balls of boiled green bananas with salt cod. Let me explain. The blood sausage (traditional at Christmas, when we were there) is usually made with pig's blood, rice, and seasonings. The rice can give it an unpleasant, pasty texture. These morcillas were home made, not with rice but with red cabage, with gave them a fresh, looser texture. They were perfectly seasoned. They were encased in a pastelillo dough (akin to fried wonton) crunchy, tender, and just out of the fryer.

A traditional Puerto Rican dish, serenata de bacalao, consists of cold desalted cod, surrounded by among other straches, boiled green bananas. These can easily be starchy and tasteless, and with some olive oil, they are a good foil for the cod and onion that accompany them. Ventura mashed the whole thing together into small balls, and fried them, presenting a cherry-sized bit of perfectly balanced serenata.

The soup was the traditional Puerto Rican Sancocho, a hearty mixture of beef, pig's knuckles, garbanzos, yautia, ñame, corn etc. Deconstructed by Ventura: in a large deep bowl, we were served a mound of ñame puree, another of pumpkin and sweet potato, surrounded by little hills of chorizo crumble, toasted corn kernels, and fried plantain chips. On this, a waiter poured a steaming vegetable broth. We were encouraged to play with our food. Mixing the elements together, we were trated to a delicious soup.

Next, a fish course. We were served what at first sight looked like a piece of fish sitting on some arroz con gandules (rice with pigeon peas), a classic Puerto Rican dish. The fish was dorado, fresh caught, and seasoned with a dry rub of garlic, smoked paprika (hello, Spain!) and cumin.
Tender and moist, it was redolent with spices..

The rice was a surprise: it was mixed with clusters of puffed rice, which gave it a crunchy texture now and then, and regular peas --a touch of sweetness.. (It takes real culinary gonads to add peas to rice with pigeon peas!) Between rice and fish conch salad (tender slivers of conch mixed with tomatoes and cilantro) freshened the dish.

Next came the sherbet, designed to clean our palates. Ventura came up with a bowl of steaming liquid nitrogen (at -350 degrees F) and a pitcher of various citrus juices. He poured the juices into the nitrogen in the sight of all, whisking furiously until all the nitrogen had evaporate and he scooped small balls of the heavenly mouthwash unto porcelain spoons. Surprise: no sugar! Instead, a slighly puckerish intensely citrussy mouthful.

Finally the main course, a deconstruction of a pastel, the Puerto Rican plantain "tamale" made this time of yuca. A small yuca pastel sitting on a banana leaf, with a mound of chopped olives, pimentoes, raisins, atc (usually found inside the pastel) on the side. On top of it, a melting chunk of dry-rubbed fresh ham (also traditional at christmas) cooked at a very low heat for 19 hours. To say that it melted in your mouth would be an understatement. It was crowned with a square of perfectly crisp pork skin, lacking any grease whatsoever. A swipe of "ketchup" (homemade) constituded a culinary joke about crazies who put ketchup on their pasteles.

The pre-desert was a trio of cheeses (all good, but not memorable --when is PR going to develop a serious cheese industry?) with two sweets: a guava jelly and candied grapefruit peel.

Desert was a spoonful of nitrogen-frozen coquito, the traditional "eggnogg" made with coconut milk and moonshine rum. Yum.

Diners were escorted into the family's house for coffee, but we unfortunately had to scoot to hit the narrow, curvy road to Utuado before sundown....

Caveats: Go ready to spend your first hour and a half walking around the property listening to papa Vivoni, who's very much the racconteur. (Ie., do not arrive starving). Or tell them ahead of time that you will be late so they do not wait for you. You can bring your own wine (I recommend it) and they will serve it for a corkage fee of $10 per bottle. Also you may want to consider staying in the area that evening, so you do not ruin your digestion by driving in PR! Finally, the portions are very small. For my appetite they could have been about 10% larger.

Watch this guy. He's going places --or maybe places will come to him.

2  Thank JuanBobo48
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 6, 2013

From the first sip of sangria (better than I knew sangria could be) to the last bite of dessert, our meal at Vida Ventura was one of the best I've *ever* eaten. Ventura himself is a thoughtful, spectacularly imaginative cook who uses the best ingredients he can find--some grown on the hacienda, but others purchased for quality. He's also articulate and charming. Between courses he explained how he'd come to create each dish we were about to be served. The first was a "deconstructed soup" that was served without its broth and described before the broth was added at the table. In one case the explanation for a sorbet included wandering from the table to admire the "monstera deliciosa," the fruit of what's commonly known as split-leaf philodendron. He loves making sorbets and served about four different kinds throughout the meal. (Just a dollop in a Chinese soup spoon.) It was extraordinarily quiet when we were there because September is low season, but somehow I'm sure that when he feeds forty, which is their max until a new pavilion is finished, each person feels specially treated. Ventura's father is clearly a source of his son's capacity to tell a story and charm people.

Don't book anything else that day. We were there from 12:30 - 6:30. It would be a treat to go back.

    • Value
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3  Thank Oliver T
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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